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the Message Continues ... 11/156


Newsletter for August 2014




Article 1 - Article 2 - Article 3 - Article 4 - Article 5 - Article 6 - Article 7 - Article 8 - Article 9 - Article 10 - Article 11 - Article 12




Khawja Muhammad Ibn Muhammad Ibn Hasan Tusi, better known as Nasir uddin Tusi, was born in Khorasan-Tus in the year 385 A.H. and died in 460 A.H. in al-Kazimiyyah, Baghdad. He was a man of unique and distinct capabilities; he was an architect, astronomer, biologist, chemist, mathematician, philosopher, physician, scientist, theologian, and Marja Taqleed.
From time to time there appeared in the Islamic world certain outstanding personalities whose names shone like brilliant stars. People were benefitted by their light according to their merits and capabilities. Among those few, Shaykh Nasiruddin Tusi tops the list. He has become immortal by sincerely sacrificing his life in search of knowledge and spread of Islamic teachings.
He acquired knowledge, among others, from imminent scholars like Shaykh Mufid and Sayyid Murtaza. After completing his studies, he started delivering lectures on Islamic Jurisprudence and Principles drawing more than 300 students at times. After the demise of his teacher Sayyid Murtaza, he became the central figure in Shiah world.
He had written 150 books in Persian and Arabic and became one of the Muslim scholars who had written the largest number of books. His library contained 400,000 books. Halaku Khan was impressed by his knowledge and patronized him and pardoned numerous scholars on his recommendations.
When first Seljuk king Tugril Beg invaded Baghdad in 436 AH, he destroyed the Shiah Public Library and burnt the books of Shaykh Tusi and plundered his house. Let the history decide the difference between Halaku Khan, who mercilessly slaughtered the human beings, and Tugril Beg, who mercilessly burnt the rare books of knowledge!
Shaykh Tusi moved to Najaf al-Ashraf and laid the foundation stone of a Centre of Knowledge which is still a Centre of Shiah religious study.
Shaykh Tusi had the honor of writing two of the four “The Great Shia Books of Traditions” e.g. Tahzeeb al-Ahkaam and al-Istibsaar”. The other two were Usul al-Kaafi by Allama Yaqub al-Kulayni and “Man la Yahzar al-Faqih” by Allama Babuyah al-Saduq.

Apart from these two books, he had written 150 books in Persian and Arabic, some of the famous ones are the following:
                                   Kitab al Shakal al-Qatta; a five volume summary of Trigonometry
                                   Al-Tazkira fi ilm al-Hayah; a memoire on the science of Astronomy
                                   Akhlaq e Nasri; a work on ethics
                                   Al-Risala al-Asturlabiyah; a treatise on astrolabe
                                   Ilkhanic Tables; A major Astronomical Treatise
                                   Sharhe al-Isharat; Commentary on Avicenna’s Isharat
                                   Awsaf al-Ashraaf; a short mystical-ethical work
                                   Tajrid al-Itiqad; A commentary on Shia Doctrine
                                   Tenets of Islam; Roots of Islam
Thazeeb al –Ahkam: The title may be translated as “The Refinement of Laws” which relates to the “Furu” or Branches of Islam. He had stated in the introduction of the book that there were many traditions which were conflicting and confusing, hence the reason of compiling the book. The book is divided into chapters or “kutub” and the chapters into sections or “abwab”.
The chapters are: al-Tahara, al-Salat, al-Zakat, al-Hajj, al-Qadaya wal Ahkam, al-Makasib, al-Tijarat, al-Nikah, al-Itq wal Tadbir, al-Ayman wal Nuzur wal-Kaffarat, al-Faraiz wal Mawaris, al-Hudud, and al-Diyat.
Shaykh Tusi’s work, the collection of correct traditions, preserved the Shiah Laws.
Al-Istibsar: After the publication of “Tahzeeb al-Ahkam”, his friends expressed their opinion that it was a voluminous work and that there should be a reference book which will be of great help to the beginners as well as for the more learned scholars. Shaykh Tusi responded as: “ ….therefore they asked me to summarize it, to begin each section with an introduction to what I relied on for the legal decisions and the traditions therein; then I should follow with those decisions with those which they disagree and explain the reconciliation between the two without leaving out anything influential.”
As we can see from Shaykh Tusi’s introduction, that al-Istibsar is a summary of Tahzeeb al-Ahkam. Not many traditions were used in it and the explanations were also concise and brief.
Al-Kulayni’ s al-Kafi was the first major collection of Traditions about “Usul”. The process continued with Shaykh al-Saduq “Man la Yazhar al-Faqih, but Shaykh Tusi’s works were the high point in the process of collection of Traditions.
These three authors and their four major works of Traditions present generally consistent picture of Shiah Islamic legal thinking.

Sources used:
Tahdhib al-Ahkam & al-Istibsar by I.K.A. Howard
Nasir al-din Tusi & his socio-political role in thirteenth century b y Abbas Ali Shameli








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